The U.S. workforce has weathered major challenges in recent years as the pandemic amplified the demand for skilled labor. Despite skilled labor shortages across myriad industries, women’s share of the ever-expanding construction workforce reached an all-time high—14 percent—in 2022, and the number of minority women apprentices has nearly doubled recently, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
With opportunities for women to enter the trades being stronger than ever, family-owned workwear brand Carhartt is dedicating its Spring 2023 round of bi-annual “For the Love of Labor” grants to increase female representation in the skilled trades.
Now through Feb. 17, eligible nonprofit organizations that help place women in skilled positions are encouraged to apply for the Spring 2023 grants as part of the brand’s focus on strengthening and diversifying America’s workforce. Recipients will be announced in early March ahead of International Women’s Day as part of Carhartt’s larger celebration of women in the skilled trades.
“While women have always played a vital role in this country’s rich history of labor, they remain disproportionately underrepresented in the skilled trades, where many of the jobs are historically male-dominated,” Linda Hubbard, president and COO at Carhartt, said. “Carhartt was founded on the belief that careers in the skilled trades provide rewarding and inclusive job opportunities, and through our next round of grants, we strive to empower like-minded organizations that champion women as an integral part of America’s workforce.”
Launched in August 2022, Carhartt’s For the Love of Labor grant program is a first-of-its-kind initiative for the brand, created to support community-based nonprofit organizations nationwide to educate, train and place workers into meaningful skilled trade jobs. The inaugural round of For the Love of Labor grants, totaling $175,000, were awarded to four deserving organizations in Carhartt’s home state of Michigan, including Women Who Weld, Women in Skilled Trades, Emerging Industries Training Institute and Workforce Development Institute – Access for All.
“Facilitating a more inclusive and diverse workforce is the first step in building stronger individuals, families and communities,” Todd Corley, senior vice president of inclusion, sustainability and community at Carhartt, said. “By working to bridge the opportunity gap between men and women in the trades, we’re not only enriching our nation’s talent pool to meet the rising demand for labor, but also delivering on Carhartt’s longstanding mission is to protect and serve all hardworking people.”
Eligible organizations must be U.S.-based 501c3 designated organizations in the recognized apprenticeship industry that have established programs serving at least 100 individuals annually.
Carhartt x Clim8
Plus, Carhartt has launched what it hopes will be the workwear of the future: the Carhartt X-1 Smart Heated Vest.
“Going forward, Carhartt X will be our platform for introducing new innovations at Carhartt,” Alex Guerrero, senior vice president, general manager of global product at Carhartt, said. “This is our first innovation coming out of the pipeline and we’re lining up different things that we want to introduce in the coming seasons.”
In partnership with Clim8, a personalized thermoregulation technology company dedicated to wearables that’s also worked with The North Face and Eddie Bauer, the intelligent heated vest outworks fluctuating body temps and is built to personalize heat and comfort both on and off the job.
Developed to help people live, work and perform more comfortably in cold environments, the Carhartt X-1 is a lightweight, durable garment that intelligently responds to real-time temperatures, activity levels and changing conditions. Designed to eliminate the pain point of layering clothes while on the job and overheating in cold-weather gear, the smart vest frees wearers from distractions with a personalized approach to regulating warmth.
“Mother nature presents all sorts of challenges, and this cutting-edge technology will enable users to manage their body heat and enjoy optimal comfort in cold conditions,” Guerrero said. “With changing temperatures, different work environments and fluctuating activity levels, our new heated vest offers a personalized experience and functions as a reactionary approach to body heat that enables users to get the job done regardless of the environment or climate.”
With three heat zones strategically mapped across vital sections of the torso, the Carhartt X-1 monitors temperature in real time; analyzes the wearer’s profile, environment and activity; activates heat automatically and safely; regulates warmth for optimal comfort; and reduces bulk by eliminating the hassle of adding and removing multiple layers.
“At Clim8 we are proud of the launch of the Carhartt X-1 Smart Heated Vest,” Florian Miguet, CEO of Clim8, said. “Both teams have worked intensely over the past two years on the field and lab testing to bring a cutting-edge product, merging Carhartt’s strong DNA of durability, performance and Clim8’s unique thermal experience.”
Powered by Clim8’s intelligent thermal technology, the AI-based heated vest is packed with technological features, such as intelligent heating modes that detect when to start and stop heating, an auto on/off interface that detects when the wearer puts on or takes off the vest, and a smart battery system that optimizes usage with longevity in mind. Using the Clim8 smartphone app, users can pair the vest via Bluetooth technology and calibrate it to their personalized comfort settings. The Clim8 AI-powered tech automatically provides heating when needed to ensure the body remains at a comfortable temperature, maximizing performance despite cold mornings or late nights on a job site.
Clim8’s Jon Klein, vice president of business development in North America, says the French company tries to “do things differently than most.”
“We truly partner with our development partners, in this case, Carhartt,” he told Sourcing Journal. “We started this development nearly two years ago and after several iterations and back and forth between getting the right heating placement to the right installations to, you know, backing into the battery and the heating power that’s required to keep this user warm for X amount of time while he’s out in the workforce, these are all the things that we take into consideration.
Innovation starts in Clim8’s “laboratory in the France headquarter office,” Klein continued, “and gets vetted and tested and we take it out to the field and so on and so forth. So that’s why we say there’s real science behind this and [that] it’s not just a standard three-button [vest]. We’re a different kind of partner for these brands because it’s a co-development from the start. That’s why it takes us almost two years to get things right and into how the user needs this to perform best.”
The Carhartt X-1 Smart Heated Vest powered by Clim8 intelligent thermal technology is the latest product unveiled from Michigan company’s innovation pipeline. In 2022, the workwear brand launched a customization program in partnership with DXM, which enabled customers to customize key styles to meet their work and outdoor apparel needs.
“We’re not innovating for the sake of innovation; as with everything we that we design, it’s purposeful,” Guerrero said. “That is really, literally, part of our DNA. Is functionality, durability, authenticity and enduring value.”
The vest launched Feb. 1 on Carhartt.com for $220.
“[The price] is keeping with our philosophy around how we build our value in our product,” Guerrero said. “We’re never going to be the cheapest, but we will have the better value.”